Blues stock up on All Blacks

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 09:35
Large rieko ioane blues run 2017 800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Blues head into the Battle of the Bombays with six All Blacks, a Maori All Black and a New Zealand Under-20s player to call from the bench.

However, the starting XV remains unchanged from the side that beat the Rebels 56-18 in Melbourne in the opening round.

Patrick Tuipulotu and Jerome Kaino return for the first time this season to join fellow All Blacks Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Charlie Faumuina, George Moala and Rene Ranger along with Maori All Black Billy Guyton and NZ U-20 representative Hame Faiva.

Jimmy Tupou will again lead the Blues in a pack that were solid in set-piece in Round One. There is a mix of Super experience in prop Pauliasi Manu, up against his former club, Tupou and All Black Steve Luatua who have 156 Super caps between them.

And some enterprising developing stars led by Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti.

The backline, with an average age of just 24 years, took their chances with the front-foot ball to get a further chance, with centre Rieko Ioane bagging a hat-trick of tries and flyhalf Ihaia West moving past the 300-point mark for the Blues.

Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Jimmy Tupou (captain), 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Jerome Kaino, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 George Moala, 23 Rene Ranger.

Date: Friday, March 3
Venue: Waikato
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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